Reading slumps… they happen to the best of us. Even the most dedicated and diligent of readers can find themselves facing the dreaded moment when the words on the page simply fail to captivate them, or when picking up a book feels like a 50-pound weight. This is especially true in uncertain times like these, where it can be hard to focus. As professional readers, we’ve come up with a few tactics that can help to break even the most stubborn of reading slumps. But remember, be kind to yourself—your books will be there waiting for you when you’re ready.
Reorganize your shelves
Perhaps you have your TBR shelf immaculately organized or maybe you have books everywhere from the basement to the attic—either way, taking a look at the books in your own possession can help break a slump. Flip through your titles, set them in order, and you might just find a volume that sounds so excellent you have to stop what you’re doing and read. Here are a few organization tips for inspiration.
Maybe this means returning to your favorite genre for solace or perhaps it means breaking free of your habits for a taste of something new. When reading grows tiresome, a switch in theme and style can be the exact palate cleanser you need to get back in the groove.
Try a novella
Or a short story collection, book of poetry, or comic. Stop trying to half-heartedly slog through The Goldfinch if you’re really not feeling it and take on a shorter challenge, which could be just what you need. Mid-slump, the page count can be the most intimidating part of the reading process. So save the longer reads for a time when you’re ready to tackle them.
Books come in many shapes and forms, from ebooks to audiobooks to print. If you’re struggling to sit down and focus, put on an audiobook while you do chores. If you need an excuse to sit still and relax, pause your audiobook and pick up something more physical.
Set the mood
Light candles, brew tea, curl up under the warmest blanket you can find and settle in for some cozy reading.
Trust your old-standbys
Obsessed with Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles but haven’t gotten around to reading Circe yet? Love Zoraida Córdova but never read her pen name Zoey Castile’s romances? There’s a chance you have not read the entirety of your favorite author’s works. Picking up something you know you’ll love can help reignite your reading fire.
Speaking of trusting what you know, a great solution can simply be to return to an old favorite. Whether you read it recently or haven’t picked it up in years, a beloved book can be the perfect place to start.
Watch a movie
You read that right. I dare you to watch The Jane Austen Book Club without wanting to pick up Pride & Prejudice, or to see Peter K win over Lara Jean in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before without wanting to read Jenny Han’s novel. A literary movie or TV show works wonders at inspiring book-loving feelings.
Set a goal
A goal can be helpful in motivating you to read, whether you hope to finish a set number of books, want to explore a new genre, or simply want to read a certain number of pages a day.
Go to a book event
Attending events hosted by authors and fellow readers never fails to inspire me to pick up a new book. There’s just something magical about indulging in a bookish discussion. Check out your local bookstore and library and find an in-person or virtual event that sparks your interest.
Start a book club or buddy read
A little moral support can go a long way. Book clubs are great because they can introduce you to genres and authors you may not have otherwise read, they involve deadlines which can motivate you to read, and they center entirely around the discussion and love of literature. Starting a virtual book club might seem intimidating, but we have a few tips here and here to help you out. Can’t round up an entire group? Tap in your bookish bff and hold a two-person buddy read!
Check out the reviews
Goodreads, Storygraph, BookishFirst, NetGalley—take your pick and get to reading… reviews that is. It can be fun to join the conversation and read a book that’s getting a lot of attention, plus picking a book with rave reviews is likely to mean you’ll enjoy it.
Take a break
We’re living in unprecedented times, so be gentle with yourself and don’t beat yourself up for not being able to find the same joy in books that you used to. Take your time, practice self-care, and come back to books when you’re ready.
Ask for help
Fellow readers are fantastic resources when you need to find something new to read. Ask them about their favorite book or author and you’re sure to be in for a passionate response that will spark your desire to read and could give you an excellent book.